Thursday, March 11, 2010


The poorest workers in Swaziland are to be forced to pay income tax for the first time, while the Swazi Royal Family continue to take a third of a million emalengeni a day of taxpayer’s money for themselves.

The latest wheeze from Swaziland’s Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole, is to make anyone who earns less than E3,000 a month (about 300 US dollars) pay income tax.

Sithole says this will bring in about E50 million a year. He says the new move will allow low earners to contribute to what he calls the cost of the kingdom’s ‘social programme’.

At the same time that Sithole was announcing that the very poorest workers in the kingdom would have to pay up, he hid the cost of the Swazi Royal Family from the king’s subjects.

In Swaziland it is not considered good form to ask how much King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, costs his subjects. But last year news leaked out that the king and his family cost the taxpayer E130 million a year.

As Swaziland slips towards bankruptcy because of the mismanagement of the economy by Sithole and the rest of the Swazi Government and a cut back in revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) King Mswati continues unhindered.

The budget announced last month (February 2010) revealed some distressing figures about just how poor people in Swaziland are. We already know that seven in ten people live in abject poverty, earning less than one US dollar a day. In addition we now know that another 11percent earn less than E3,000 and until now were considered too poor to pay tax. They make up a half of the total workforce on Swaziland of about 222,000.

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